Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18 – “Getting Ready”

We checked on our friends from Arlington yesterday.  The ones who had a moving van load of furniture and clothes and other stuff from 40+ years of marriage catch fire on its way to their new home here in Galveston (It was somewhere near Houston). The trailer had a flat tire, and as the movers were easing to the side of the road, apparently some of the sparks made their way into a tiny hole in the frame.  By the time the movers got over to check out the tire, they could see smoke pouring from the hole.  And of course the hole was right in the center of the van.  Once the fire was out, they changed the tire and continued with the delivery.  They have all the smoke-damaged stuff under tarps in the back yard now.  As it turned out, the moving company had no insurance to cover the contents.  Looked pretty bleak … until our friends mad a phone call and verified that the homeowner’s insurance that they canceled effective, well, today, would indeed cover all their losses.  The moving van people have assured them that they will help with all the deductibles involved.  They assured us that they are doing fine while waiting for all the insurance red tape.  In case their daughter is listening … Larissa, we gave Mom and Dad a hug for you.

On the way home we made our yearly stop at the Moody Methodist craft fair.  That’s the one that co-opted our name.  They call it the Seaside Craft Festival.  We snagged a few books from their library clean-out, but mainly just strolled around looking for things Chris could do.  Oh, and people-watching of course.  We saw Laura and her goat factory soaps and lotions.  And April snuck up on us and said hello.  One of the vendors who has already signed up for our craft show in December (9th) stopped us and asked if I could figure out the symbolism of one of his new creations.  Lots of pressure, too.  He said he had asked a few people already and no one got it right.  He was excited about coming to our show so he could “ask the pastor what he though.”  I studied the details of the cross he held before me, pondering whatever he could mean.   I even came up with something.  Not what he had in mind, though.  After he showed me what he intended, of course I could see it exactly.  I encouraged him to give it a name to make it easier to see his vision.  Something like, “Christmas Star Cross.”  It is a beautiful item, by the way.  It would make a great Christmas gift.  Come get you one on the 9th

The rest of our errand run involved getting ready.  We went to Academy and got two new turkey friers and some oil.  Once we get some propane tanks that actually dispense propane, we will be ready to do some frying.  Then we stopped by Home Depot to get some more dropped ceiling panels and clips for hanging garland at the church.  We are just about ready for our Hanging of the Greens fellowship after church on December 3rd

Psalms 3:3-4 says, “But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.”

Father, help us to get ready for the things that matter … like loving you and loving people.  Amen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17 – “Proving me wrong”

Yesterday was one of those days.  I know, that could literally mean anything depending on who says it.  In my case, in this particular blog situation, however, it means that, well, nothing much happened yesterday.  Now here’s where I try to track our footsteps and prove myself wrong.

We did our walk and exercise regimen after being off for four days.  It was easier to accomplish after all that rest, but I’m kind of sore this morning.  Chris cleaned house for home group, and I even did the vacuuming.  Then after getting cleaned up we headed out to run errands.  Asleep yet?  We stopped by the bank to make a deposit.  Still doing our banking the old school way.  Oh, we are set up to do online stuff, and I do that occasionally, but there’s nothing quite like getting to know a banker.  Never know when it might come in handy. 

Next stop was Randalls for some fruit and to pick up a prescription for Chris.  While in line at the pharmacy an old guy wearing a World War II Marines veteran cap asked the fellow behind me (who was just a bit older than me, himself), if he would mind holding his place in line while he sat down for a few minutes to rest his bad leg.  He assured the old fellow that he would.  Well, Chris and I heard the interchange, so I struck up a conversation with the guy behind us and asked if he would mind if we let the old guy go in front of us.  He was readily in favor of the plan.  As we continued our chat he asked about my fire department hat, and we shared which neighborhoods we lived in.  I told him I was born here in 1953.  He said he arrived on the Island in 1956.  Just a couple of salt between the toes, long-time Galvestonians.  Always good to find a kindred spirit. 

Then we headed to Walmart … of course.  We did have a plan this time, though.  Turkeys.  Next week is Thanksgiving, which means next Tuesday is turkey fry day.  So we had to grab ten of the right sized beasts.  Fortunately we got there just after a bin-stocking, so we loaded up on 14-15 pounders.  Why so many?  Well, we will have the whole family over, plus some Seasiders are planning to join us.  We also freeze as much as we can to use throughout the year.  And we’ll give some away, so it will all find a place by the end of next week.  It took some maneuvering, but Chris managed to find a place for all the birds in the fridge until we can fire up the fryers next week. 

As I was studying for the home group Bible study I got an email from the daughter of some good friends from Arlington.  Her parents are finally making the big move to Galveston and their retirement home here.  But they ran into a problem on the way down here.  One of the two trucks that was hauling their belongings caught fire.  I don’t know how much was destroyed, but everything in there was at least water or smoke affected.  Their daughter was asking if we could stop by their house today and give them a hug.  That sounds doable. 

Bible study went well.  Ten of us talking about manna from heaven (The kind in the Book of Exodus).  After everyone left we crashed on the couch with an orange and watched a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

So there you have it.  We have reached the end of our day.  One of those days.  I guess we did end up accomplishing something, though, didn’t we?

Psalms 1:6 says, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Father, thank you for giving us one more of those days.  Be with the Philpot’s as they sort through their stuff.  Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16 – “Dance. Dance. Dance”

I guess I haven’t mentioned much about the conference itself.  The business was all very … boring.  All straightforward maintenance stuff like electing officers and adopting resolutions to thank the venue and the people who worked on the convention committee.  I did hear that they are moving it to Arlington next year.  We did hear a pretty good sermon, though.  It took a while for the guy to get started.  He was kind of intimidated by his preaching professor being in the audience, but once he stopped worrying about “proper style” and just went to preaching, he was really good.  He had three or four lists of points, but one thing I thought was catchy: “When we allow what’s ABOVE us to get IN us, only then can we handle what’s AROUND us.”  Yep.

Before I go any further, just to make things perfectly clear … AnnaGrace did say DadDad.  Numerous times.  Appropriately.  That and her all in style of taking a break (just flopping down on the carpet on her back with her arms out to the side) captured my heart.  Luke showed his creative side.  He was playing with a pirate ship when suddenly a giant whale (I suppose they have a Jonah play set or something) leapt from the depths and landed on the masts of the schooner.  The pirates did their best to fight against him, but to no avail.  Caleb and I had a run-in while playing a card game (The name of the game had something to do with exterminating vermin in a certain northern African country).  Part of the excitement involved being the first one to slap the cards when a double is played (like two jacks in a row).  He leaned way over into my line of attack, so the next time a double showed up, I smushed his face into the ottoman we were using as a table.  Sure surprised him, but we laughed about that all the way up until I did it again.  And again.  And again.  Speaking of card games, Zak displayed his victory dance for us.  His Daddy told him he couldn’t swing his hips in any way, so he figured out a way to compensate.  And he looked like a TV star.  No, not in general.  A very specific TV star.  Remember Erkel?  Picture him.  Hips pushed out in front, head down, arms stiff as a board.  And then the arms move back and forth, allegedly in time to the music, but if anyone is watching the music becomes irrelevant.  It’s too funny a sight to bother with things like timing.  And timing was not really a factor in his other dance move, one he called The Seizure.  No explanation necessary.  The dancing segment was even better when Zak took it upon himself to train Luke in proper techniques.   That we have a video of.  All three of them in dance mode.  Great fun.

Eccl 3:1 & 4 says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — 
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Father, thank you for the unbridled fun of three brothers dancing.  Amen.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15 – “Now, THAT’S a burger place”

Well, we found a place to eat a burger in Waco, Texas.  No, we found THE place.  In response to a quick text I sent asking for some lunch ideas, Josh replied with two suggestions.  One, a sandwich shop, was right by the convention center.  We went there the first day.  Pretty good sandwich.  Also had a guy walk up to us and strike up a conversation.  To be honest, I didn’t recognize him.  In fact it took the better part of the day for me to come up with his name.  He was from way, way back to even before I was a youth pastor.  Sigh.  It takes longer and longer for long term memories to escape from their warehouses nowadays.

But today I speak of the second option Josh sent us.  The name was innocuous enough.  In fact I just assumed he misspelled it or auto-correct jumbled it up or something.  Dubl-R Old Fashioned Hamburgers.  I typed it into Google maps, though, and it came right up, just as spelled.  Now, we don’t know much about the town of Waco yet, but it didn’t take long for us to become suspicious of the route Google Siri was suggesting.  Certainly not the safest-feeling area of the community, to be sure.  We followed her directions to the letter, though.  And still, we almost missed it entirely.  Tiny little building.  We circled the block, and sure enough, there it was. 

Chris said, “Are you sure you want to go in there?”  well, the parking lot was almost full …. with construction trucks.  And we all know they know the best places to eat.  So we walked inside.  And she said it again, “Are you sure you want to eat here?”  Now more than ever was my thought.  The kitchen is right in the open with a bar-type counter facing it.  Everyone has to buss his own table.  Not that unusual, right?  Well, here’s the interesting thing.  Instead of placing your little plastic basket and setting it on a counter somewhere, you put it straight into the sink of soapy water marked “Wash.”  They don’t use frozen meat.  The cook just grabs a wad of hamburger meat, plops it on the table, smacks it flat with a spatula, and slaps it onto the griddle.  And they fried the bun along with the meat.  Oh, and they had bacon.  Can’t beat bacon. 

There was live entertainment, too.  Well, sort of.  The guy who was apparently the store owner was … verbal.  He was working behind the counter.  At one point he chewed out a few of his customers (a couple of college students) for texting instead of talking.  “Hey!  Put those phones away and talk to each other.  What’s the matter with you?”  The fry cook stirred the pot a little when he carefully pointed out that one of the customers liked to play video games.  The owner started out simple enough.  “What’s your favorite video video game?  Hesitantly, the guy mumbled “Atari.”  That’s all it took.  The trap had been set and the prey had stumbled right into it.  The owner yelled, “Video games!  Why are sitting around the house playing video games all the time?  Get a job.  I bet you still live with your Mama, too.  Give her a break.  Get your own place.  Oh, but to do that you’d have to GET A JOB.”  Between them all, they also solved all the problems the Dallas Cowboys are having, but no one has asked them.  Oh, and right in the middle of one such tirade the owner suddenly stopped and said, “Wait.  That guy there is praying.  Everybody shut up so he can pray.”

So … highly entertaining place.  Oh, and the burger was fabulous.  Not that I would have particularly noticed.  Too much going on to concentrate on food. 

Psalms 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinner or sit in the seat of mockers.”

Father, thank you for people who really enjoy what they do for a living.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14 – “Pretty inspiring lady”

We arrived in Waco.  Guess I failed to mention that we were heading here yesterday. The plan was to attend the Baptist General Convention of Texas, or whatever they are calling themselves these days.  They were gracious enough to hold the convention in Waco this year.  I’m fairly certain the decision was made strictly to make things easier for us.  No hotel room to pay for, and we would have access to a certain four grandchildren.  Such a difficult sacrifice we have been called upon to make, but we are willing.

We arrived early enough to go by the church where Josh is pastor.  A young man was sharing about a trip he had just taken to Israel.  He was focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his teaching.  Pretty fascinating history lesson.  Caleb was enthralled.   He even approached the speaker at the end, and the two of them discussed their mutual love of history and begrudging acceptance of all things math. 

Zak and Caleb hopped in the car with us for the ride home, so we got to hear their welcome excitement.  Luke is four years old now.  In an apparent nod to our aged forgetfulness, he told us that at least five times.  And AnnaGrace melted our hearts with a smile, of course.  Girls.  How do they do that? 

Grandchildren fix completed, we made our way to the conference yesterday.  We got checked in, received our free welcome bag, and headed into the exhibit arena.  Isn’t that what everyone does at these things?  Lots of free gimmick-y stuff to go with the coffee and snacks for breakfast.  We had already had breakfast, though.  The hotel had a place set up with some really good bacon and cheese breakfast burritos.  We did avail ourselves of the gimmicks, though.  Strictly in the cause of research, of course.  You never know when we might have cause to purchase a hundred or so engraved pens (that’s an easy one), or single pen holders (Kind of an odd plastic blob with a hole on top), or those squishy stress balls that look like baseballs (lots of offers to us for these, since I was wearing an Astros shirt), or my personal favorite so far, a tiny fan that plugs into the recharge port of your cell phone, so you can be cool anywhere you have your phone, which of course these days is everywhere. 

We also ran into an old friend from our South Oaks Baptist Church days.  We have been keeping up with Jodi on FaceBook.  She is an amazing woman.  A while back she was on vacation and fell, breaking both ankles and a wrist.  She received news from the ER doctor that she would require some surgery once the swelling went down.  Guess what?  Since she had to wait for the swelling anyway, and she wanted her own doctors to do any invasive stuff, she just continued on with her vacation.  Took her four months to come back from the ankle surgeries and another three months for the wrist.  But now she is up and at ‘em, traveling again.  Pretty inspiring lady. 

Rev 1:17-18 says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”

Father, thank you for Jodi and for her story of inspiration.  Keep her safe and healthy.  Amen.

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13 – “The Walking Stick”

We had some visitors in church yesterday.  Well, I guess that doesn’t tell you much, since a day without visitors would be the anomaly at Seaside.  But these fellows were from Oregon.  They were in Texas to do relief building work in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on behalf of their Swedish Lutheran church.  And the three houses they had been working on all week?  Well, they were in Rosenberg, a community west of Houston.  How did they come to be at Seaside?  Well, they came to Galveston take a day off at the beach town, basically.  They knew nothing about it other than it was an island.  So how in the world did they come to find out about Seaside?  The internet.  Apparently our website won out over all the rest when they saw the line about wearing shorts and t-shirts. 

The visual verse for the day was Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.  One of the Oregonians (They were impressed because I pronounced it correctly) approached me after church to tell me a story.  Seems his father and uncle both loved to hike on the trails in Oregon.  His father even led hiking tours.  Sadly, something came between them, and the uncle, who was an unbeliever, refused to talk to his brother for two years. 

On one of his hikes the uncle found a walking stick, an elaborately carved walking stick, in fact, obviously quite expensive.  He checked with all his sources and came up empty.  The only other course of action he knew of was to ask an actual trail guide to check with tour groups.  And the only trail guide for the area in question?  You guessed it … his estranged brother.  The uncle managed to get past whatever had kept them apart for two years.  He contacted his brother and the two of them worked together to find the cane’s owner. 

Now that would be a nice, Hallmark-y ending to the story.  But here’s the thing.  Number one, I don’t know if they ever found the owner of the cane or not.  He never said.  Why?  Because the actual “punchline” was so much better.  When the brothers got together to look at the cane and develop a lost and found ad, they noticed that the engraving on the cane included a Bible verse.  Jeremiah 29:13.  You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.  And from the chuckle they shared at the irony on the stick, their relationship was healed.  Irony?  Ah … I prefer … the power of the word of God to heal and restore.  Beat that, Hallmark.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”

Father, thank you for the effort the guys from Oregon are expending here in Texas to help folks rebuild.  Honor their efforts and keep them safe as they return home.  Amen.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12 – “Another championship”

Our day started kind of early.  We made a trip into Texas, so we put together our Texas list before we left the Island.  First stop was one of the Seasider Dickinson homes affected by Hurricane Harvey.  We have been walking with Amber through the rebuilding process, and we had a gift card to give her to help out with some of the materials purchases she still has to deal with.  They are just about finished with sheetrocking and once the texturing and painting there is done, they can move onto flooring.  That’s moving pretty fast in the grand scheme of things.  We also made a swing by the Boyer’s house to check on them, but no one was at home.

Next on the list … we headed to Lifeway Christian Store to pick up an order of New Testaments.  These are destined for the give-away bags at the upcoming Bethlehem Street Market on December 9th.  Every shopper will receive a nice cloth bag with the New Testament and a few other things inside.  Then they can fill it up with all their purchases.  Mark your calendars.

After a fly-through stop at McDonald’s (Yes, McDonald’s.  It was the only place near us where we could grab something fast and get on the road.  Chris ordered a Big Mac without the special sauce.  I had to remove the extraneous hunk of bread they stick in the middle.  I tried the quarter pounder with cheese, cut the mustard, add mayo.  Never have had one before.  I think I have found a go-to option in the event we are forced to rely on a McDonald’s excursion in the future), we made our way back south a little bit to Jachin’s baseball game.  It was his end-of-the-season tournament.  As it turned out they won their first game, so we were going to arrive just in time for the championship game. 

As we walked up we were greeted with running hugs from Josiah and Noa.  Well, Chris was the hug recipient.  I got the left-overs.  But I had my moment to shine just short moments away.  Ezra was in his stroller, so I approached him.  I leaned down and grinned at him and gave him a little tickle under his chin.  He made eye contact with me and quite clearly said, “DadDad.”  Of course.  And from that point on, every time he saw me he named me again.  It kind of felt like a hippopotamus in the Garden of Eden with Adam trying repetition to remember what it was he called that strange creature.  This old boy didn’t mind, though.  Bring it on. 

So back to the game.  Jachin’s team entered the top of the last inning ahead by five runs.  And the other team launched a surging comeback.  They scored five runs to tie the score.  Jachin was finally called on to stem the tide, and he finally induced a weak chopper back to the mound to retire the side.  They came to the plate needing just one run, but this was a pony league team, and not the home run happy Astros.  The first batter worked a walk, then stole second and third, sandwiched between a few foul balls.  Then came a passed ball.  The runner made a dash for the plate.  The pitcher was covering.  The catcher made the throw … and the pitcher couldn’t handle the toss.  The run scored.  Jachin’s team wins the championship.  And by virtue of a timely relief appearance, guess who is recorded as the winning pitcher?  Yep.  That would be Jachin.  That’s my grandson out there. 

Revelation 1:8 says, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

Father, thank you for a great day of sunshine and baseball.  And for all of those 10-month-old “DadDad’s.”  Amen.